Anyone who has been tasked with monitoring the security of server instances in a data center or cloud knows how laborious and time-consuming it can be. Osquery, a project started by Facebook, aims to lessen this burden by reframing how developers engage with their infrastructures. DevOps professionals can use Osquery to expose an operating system as a high-performance relational database, making it possible to use SQL commands to access data about a system, just as they would for a database.
Osquery works on Mac, Linux and Windows systems and is provided as an open source download via GitHub. Although Osquery was developed by Facebook to monitor and safeguard the security of its own platform, the social media giant quickly realized the utility of the platform would extend to other enterprises that depend upon insight into the low-level behavior of operating systems.
Facebook publicly released the project’s code and documentation in 2014, in response to feedback from a small number of other companies that tested Osquery. The public availability of Osquery resulted in a number of major companies including Airbnb, Dropbox, Netflix, Etsy and Uber to bring Osquery into their software development environments. Nevertheless, users have voiced frustrations with Facebook’s handling of Osquery, and have accused the internet giant of neglecting the project.
To address those complaints, The Linux Foundation has taken over the mantel of Osquery and recently announced the formation of a new foundation to support the Osquery community.
The new Osquery Foundation brings together engineers and developers from Dactiv, Facebook, Kolide, Trail of Bits, Uptycs and many others committed to supporting the project with technical contributions and long-term stewardship. A Technical Advisory Board will be created to handle the shift in management from Facebook to the Osquery Foundation and will oversee the priorities initiated by the foundation’s members.
This restructuring of management promises to extend the usability of the project as a number of developers contribute to the codebase.
“Osquery has drastically simplified the process of operating system monitoring, which has unlocked new methods for securing infrastructure, detecting anomalies and more. We look forward to working with the Osquery community to develop the foundation in a manner that will continue to foster the growth and adoption of Osquery while supporting the community’s diverse needs,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation.
Developers working to maintain the security of their systems believe it would be wise to incorporate Osquery into their workflow. “Although Osquery will never do everything that a security team needs, it gets about 80% of what you need for endpoint insight in one package,” said Doug Wilson, director of security for Uptycs.
Although the platform requires some configuration, developers familiar with SQL will feel accustomed to using Osquery to retrieve information about their systems. Furthermore, Osquery’s cross-platform support and customizability make it especially attractive to businesses with newer types of infrastructures and ones that work at scale.
The move away from Facebook toward a more community-friendly foundation is sure to breathe new life into the project, and as development on Osquery expands, it is likely to become a more valuable resource for security teams moving forward.
This article was co-authored by Tyler Ohlhorst, research analyst and freelance copy editor and copywriter at Magnum Consulting.